The appeal of dogs to seniors

May 7th, 2019 by Ken

Moxie sensed danger around the corner.  He tugged hard at his leash.  He planted his four feet squarely on the concrete and stiffened his neck.  The growl started from a rumble deep in his throat then burst out with ferocity.  The bark followed, loud and full of deeply held anger.

One, two, three barks escaped before I tugged on the leash.  He stopped for a few brief seconds, then started up again.  I pulled on his leash stronger and even lifted him off the ground a few inches.

The wind blew the large piece of paper along the street, making  a scraping noise as it went.  Moxie didn’t quite know what to think of it, but wanted to smell it anyway.  We made our way to the paper and I let him sniff.  It was fine he decided and turned his head to look at me to see what we were doing next.

Moxie is a Yorkie, but he’s very small.  He was the runt of the liter and weighs just about five pounds. But, he’s full of courage and will attack anything that he thinks is a threat to me, the pack, or himself.

We’ve had him for a couple of years but haven’t really had time to train him to walk and heel.  When Jan retired, we had more time.  We also got ourselves another Yorkie a year later.  This one is named Minnie, and she’s a full size  Yorkshire Terrier.  She’s also Moxie’s half-sister.  Same mother, different father.

Having a half sister in the house with an older  male is just another word for sibling rivalry and male dominance.  Moxie is just a year older, so Minnie is learning behavior from Moxie.

Minnie is twice as large as Moxie.  In the early days, Minnie gave Moxie great respect and began to learn dog behavior from him.  As the weeks went by, Minnie tried to imitate Moxie, even when he was humping his favorite toy.  (Bear in mind that both dogs have been fixed.)  It was interesting to watch Minnie try to mimic Moxie’s moves, and often stood behind him and moved in unison with the gyrations he made.

But, Minnie is now a year old and is beginning to challenge Moxie for top dog status.

Minnie is faster and stronger than Moxie, and she lets him know it whenever she has a chance.  When they are let outside, Minnie out runs Moxie to the back fence.  Moxie can’t out run her, but has decided to cut across the yard and beat her to the finish.

Moxie tries to keep her under control by growling and barking.  Minnie used to be afraid and would back off.  But, recently she has discovered that she is stronger than Moxie.  Sometimes, when they’re playing, Minnie will get Moxie down and sit on him.  At other times, she will grab Moxie’s collar and drag him around the floor.  

That of course enrages Moxie and he will go into his most fierce alpha male role by growling, hissing, barking and nipping at Minnie’s ear.  Occasionally he will nip hard enough and will back off when Minnie yelps.  But, it isn’t all one sided.  Minnie will also nip back when she thinks she’s in trouble.

It’s been decades since we’ve had any children at home.  Watching these two dogs stake out roles and learn to live together reminds us of our children.

I now understand the fascination that older people have with dogs. 

Posted in The Real News

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